It’s More Fun to Write

It’s a LOT more fun to write than to rewrite.

One moment the page is blank. Within a few minutes, the page is half-filled.

One moment, it is a small spark in the brain. The next, it is a living, breathing organism—a grouping of thoughts begging to be a story.

Sometimes the ideas come so fast that there’s no time to check for grammar, spelling, or errors of any kind. They spill out and if they aren’t acknowledged right away, they fade. It’s hard to recoup them. Often, it’s not possible.

So, like many of you, I carry a pad of paper in my purse and a notebook in my car. If an idea comes into my head, I pull over and scribble it down. If I’m in a restaurant, a napkin may have to suffice. In the doctor’s office, I once wrote down an idea on the paper liner from the exam table. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

So what happens when you are in the middle of writing and someone calls you to say, partake of luscious ribs from the grill?

That’s what just happened to me in the middle of writing this blog. My husband  announced that the ribs were ready an hour earlier than I had expected.

I closed down my writing program and graced my husband with my presence at the table. The ribs were great and I wasn’t sorry I let them interrupt my writing.

But now I am back in front of the computer and I’m stalling…

I’ve lost my momentum, my train of thought. I’ve forgotten where I was headed with all of this. 

So, I’ll give this what I call the “Fifteen Minute Rule.”  If, within the space of fifteen minutes, I haven’t written anything meaningful, I’ll shut my computer down. 

Power off.

Because it is much more fun to write. Not so much fun to rewrite. 

It’s not as exciting when you’ve lost that edge, that quirky way of expressing something ordinary in a new and different way that makes us all sit up and take notice.

So, go ahead and have a plate of delicious ribs. But, as for me, I think I’ll pass—next time.

[Rewritten from an earlier blog post.]

Cooking Up A Good Story

 

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When I was a child, I had a problem with stretching the truth just a little bit, especially when doing so would help me avoid punishment from my father. When I would finish my “explanation” of events—the defense of my actions—he’d often say, “You sure cooked up a big one this time, didn’t you?”

Maybe storytelling does have some similarities to cooking.

Just this month, for example, my writing involved what one might call three culinary aspects. 

Now that I have written the last page of my next book, I am starting my rewrites. Starting on page one, I checked my list of ingredients, i.e. plot points. Were they all there? Did I add them in the correct order?

Next I trimmed the fat—those phrases, scenes, even chapters–that didn’t really go anywhere and didn’t lend to moving the story forward.

On the next run through, I focused on the spice, the sauce, asking myself if there was just enough to keep the story interesting for the reader.

After that, I closed up my file. I will let the story simmer for awhile. Although I will not actively work on it, I will use this time to let new thoughts/ideas come to the forefront, contemplating things that will improve the story and trashing those that won’t.

A few months from now, I will open the file and begin my second round of rewrites before giving it to my taste testers (beta readers) who will read it and give me their opinions which will be used for the final rewrite.

The next phase is up to the customers. Will they my latest recipe?

They say the “proof is in the pudding.”

 

 

Letting Characters Write Their Own Endings

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You’re writing along. Things are going pretty well. And then the unthinkable happens.

Your character doesn’t want to cooperate. He doesn’t want to die or lose the battle or watch as someone else “gets the girl.”

And, you say to yourself, “Just who does he think he is? I created him. I gave him thoughts, ideas, friends, goals, depth. Who is he to tell me here, in Chapter Nineteen—at the climax of the story—that he doesn’t agree with the way I’ve written it?”

I feel your pain. No, really I DO because it just happened to me.

My main character and I are having a meeting of the minds…a war of the words. 

He’s going to win.

I know it. I just know it.

Because he’s REAL. 

He’s lived and breathed life into this story for nine months. 

Who better to tell me how things should end?

In order to change the outcome, it will be necessary for me to go back to Chapter Fifteen and start rewriting.

So, I yell out to him, “Why did you wait until now to tell me this? Couldn’t you have clued me in a little sooner?”

He just laughs and tells me to get back to work.

Get Cranking!

So, you get your submission back from your critique group. They have a few “suggestions” for improvement.

Your manuscript is returned from your editor with hundreds of “red lines”. A major rewrite is in order.

Your Beta Readers are less than enthusiastic about the plot or characters in your latest book. You need to tear it apart and see where it went wrong.

Negative comments are inevitable, but we cannot let them devastate us as writers. When you get them, first “consider the source”. Then, if the source is credible and the person is someone you respect, spend as little time as possible wallowing in despair.

I say: “get cranking.” Learn what you need to learn; do what you need to do. Use all of that pent up frustration in the direction of making improvements.

Oh, to be sure, we love those positive comments that make us feel successful, but it’s those negatives that can really light the fire under us. They have the power to propel us to greatness if we turn them around and view them as positives.

We can even learn to be thankful for them, because they are the ones that stretch us as  writers and spur us on to learn and grow in our craft!

If we allow ourselves to be devastated by negatives, we will soon find ourselves deep in a black hole of gigantic proportions, stagnated and unable to ever face the computer keyboard again.

When riders are thrown from a horse, the best advice they receive is to get back in the saddle as soon as possible. As writers, that “horse” may look like a harmless chair on rollers. But, here’s the point:

Don’t let negatives define you.

Use them to your advantage and

Get Cranking!